I’m pretty sure I was 11 or 12 years old. My Mom and I had just gone on a tearful shopping experience. Clothes just didn’t fit like they looked on the manikins or in the magazines, whether the size fit or not. We had been looking for an Easter dress. The one we ended up with was the only one that really fit well, and after hours of trying, it was a relief to finally make the decision.
Finally, I ran into the house with the JC Penny Bag in tow. As was tradition after spending the day shopping and buying clothes with the family’s hard-earned money we (my sisters and I) would always put on a little fashion show for my Dad.
I may not have been thrilled with shopping, but I loved the dressing up part! So after discussing the day and sharing everything we accomplished, my Dad urged me to try on the new dress.
I gingerly pulled the new smelling chiffon dress over my head and my hands pushed their way out; the pastel printed cream, tan, and mauve flowers seemed to ooze out of the sleeves onto the button up beige attached collared shirt (that looked like a separate piece but secretly was sewn in). After the struggle was over, I flapped my arms down and was then… was paralyzed in disgust. My eyes had hit the mirror. All I could see was a flowered blob with thick tattered bangs and wire rimmed glasses looking back at me.
My Dad’s voice called me to come. I leaned back against the door of the bathroom and flung my head back in disgust, allowing my body to crumble to the floor out of view of the mirror.
Who in their right mind would want to see this? I blinked back tears thinking of what I had hoped to see. Stupid dress. Stupid hair. Stupid flowers.
I noisily pulled myself to my feet, wiped my eyes, opened the door, and walked down the hall with my arms crossed to match my frown.
As I reached the living room, where my Dad was seated in his chair, the warm light invited me to his side. The next moments have since become engraved in my heart and mind.
When my Dad looked up and saw me, his eyes lit up… and in a way I can’t quite describe or imitate, despite my best efforts, he exclaimed:
“BE. U. Tiful!”
And he meant it.
He then put out his hand to take mine and spun me around.
In that moment, my heart and understanding clashed. I knew what I had seen in the mirror and let me tell you, it was not beautiful. Yet, when I looked into his eyes and I heard him say “be-u-tiful,” I knew it was true. I knew he meant it. I knew he really saw beauty in me.
He wasn’t faking it. He didn’t just say what he knew he should say. He wasn’t just talking about the “inward beauty.” No.
He really saw me, and he saw beauty.
I’m still not sure to this day how it all worked, but let me tell you… it changed the way I saw myself, and it changed the way I saw others.